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Delivery App Orders Restaurants to Cook Almost Whatever You Want

Ilya Khrennikov

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s largest tech company is launching a delivery service that allows a customer to tell a restaurant what to cook, whether it’s on the menu or not.

Yandex NV will prepare meal kits with ingredients based on a customer’s requested dish and send it to a nearby restaurant for cooking. Once the food is ready, Yandex couriers will handle delivery.

Yandex has been rapidly expanding its delivery services. In 2017 it merged with Uber Technologies Inc.’s Russian ride-hailing and food-ordering businesses. The new offering, which it calls a "cloud restaurant" service, mashes together Yandex.Eats, which delivers cooked food from restaurants, and Yandex.Chef, which already supplies meal kits for home cooking.

"Restaurants can expand their menu without additional expenses on food, marketing and delivery," Yandex said in a statement, adding that customers will be able to order favorite meals "even if nearby restaurants aren’t specialized in it."

For now, customers won’t be able to create completely bespoke delicacies, but Yandex has created a list of hundreds of the most popular dishes among users of its food businesses, which will be priced typically for no more than 250 rubles ($3.86) per dish. The service will be initially available in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Many food-delivery companies are trying to reinvent the restaurant business. In the U.K, Uber Eats and market leader Deliveroo are also battling for so-called virtual restaurants, where eateries lease kitchen space to prepare food for couriers. With no dining rooms or waiters, these outfits pop up where food delivery companies expect demand, and sell their meals through Uber Eats or Deliveroo’s app.

"Pizza and sushi remain popular for online delivery in Russia, while burgers are declining from the peak of their popularity," Daniil Shuleyko, who heads Yandex’s food and taxi businesses, said in an interview. "Home-style and simple food is getting traction online -- like borscht, meat cutlets with mashed potatoes and Hawaiian poke."

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, Nate Lanxon, Giles Turner

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